WASHINGTON, Jan. 5, 2018 — Results of the Defense Department’s Joint Outpatient Experience Survey, or JOES, are in for 2017, and soldiers, retirees and family members reported very high overall satisfaction — 93 percent — with their experience at Army medical treatment facilities, the senior health policy analyst with the Office of the Army Surgeon General said.
Melissa Gliner said the other two big metrics are ease of access to Army providers, which was rated 83 percent positive, the highest in the military health services, and overall experience with Army pharmacies, which was rated 78 percent positive.
The results of the survey show an overall increase in satisfaction of about 2 percent for those three questions compared to 2016, the year the Army first participated in the survey, she said.
About 2.7 million surveys go out annually to about 10 percent of patients who have visited a military health facility in a random selection process, she said. At first, only paper surveys were distributed, but since last month, a website has been set up for taking the two-page survey.
Strict confidentiality is maintained at all times, she added.
Gliner, a statistician by training, said she interprets the results and shares them with representatives from all of the military health facilities regularly. The facilities’ staffs are eager to learn the survey results and understand what’s working and what can be improved, she said.
One incentive for getting high survey scores is a monetary award that’s given to the best-performing military health facilities, Gliner noted, adding that performance reviews are tied to the results.
Improving the Patient Experience
Besides sharing the results with the facilities, Gliner said, she also offers advice on ways to improve the patient experience. For instance, she said, she looks at civilian treatment facilities to see what works well and then shares that information. Among these insights is having staff members circulate in the waiting area to chat with patients so they don’t feel they’re being ignored, which Gliner said is one way to elevate scores.
Another finding from the survey was that some patients experience frustration during their initial call to schedule an appointment, with some being told to call back because there were no appointments. Some military health facilities are now retraining clerks who take the calls to get the appointments set up without the patient having to call back, she said.
Gliner said the U.S. Army Medical Command is working to stand up a website that will better help military health facilities to share their ideas and further elevate patient experience and survey scores.